My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 8

By Wataru Watari and Ponkan 8. Released in Japan as “Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru” by Gagaga Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jennifer Ward.

I have to hand it to the author, they are very very good at making me, as a reader, feel thrilling highs and desperate lows. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this series as a whole, each book always seems to end on a low, and so I often end up being depressed after a new volume of it. That said, I do still want to learn what happens next, even if I suspect it will once again be a journey where I grind my teeth and yell at everyone to actually have a decent talk with each other. But the nature of our three protagonists is such that that’s not going to happen – if they did, the series would have ended back at Vol. 3. Instead, buckle up for another adventure with Hachiman, whose cynical and roundabout narrative voice make me want him to meet Zaregoto’s Ii-chan someday. On the bright side, when he suggests his one solution to any problem, people are finally there to tell him to take his idea and shove it.

The soccer club manager we met in the short story volume has been nominated for Student Council President. She doesn’t want to do it, but also doesn’t want to deal with fallout of her dropping out or sabotaging herself. So she asks the club to help out. Hachiman suggests writing a bad speech so that everyone blames the speechwriter (him). This goes over like a lead balloon. Instead, first Yukino and then Yui decide to run against her, which will solve the problem, but also mean they likely would not be in the club any more. This also leaves Hachiman with nothing to do. After the middle of the book, which I will get to in a bit, he bands together with the rest of the main cast and comes up with a third option: convince Iroha that she really WOULD be a good Student Council President, thus removing the original request. Sadly, he does this without thinking of Yukino or Yui, particularly Yukino, and the result is the worst victory ever.

That said, the best reason to get the book are two scenes in the middle of it. The first has Hachiman and Hayama on the double date from hell, as his old classmate from middle school, Orimoto (the one he confessed to) and her friend want to get in with Hayama and he begs Hachiman to come along as he clearly doesn’t want to deal with this. After spending most of said date listening to Orimoto mocking and belittling Hachiman, Hayama snaps and tears them apart, pointing out the close relationships Hachiman has gained in high school. Tellingly, Hachiman is more upset by this than anything else. The second scene, my favorite, has Hachiman, at his lowest ebb, returning home and coming across Komachi, who he’d had a fight with at the start of the book. They make up quickly, and the ensuing conversation that follows is possibly the warmest, most heartwarming scene he’s had in the whole series to date, as he asks Komachi for her help and she talks about how worried she really is for him.

So the middle will make your heart grow three sizes, and the ending will make your face turn pale. But that’s typical of this series, which might better be called My Youth Romantic Soap Opera Is Wrong As I Expected. Like most soap operas, it makes you want to read the next book.

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 7.5

By Wataru Watari and Ponkan 8. Released in Japan as “Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru” by Shogakukan. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jennifer Ward.

There are quite a few .5 volumes in Japan, but whether they get licensed or not is another issue. They’re almost always short story collections, meant to be read but not affect the overall storyline (hence the .5), though this is not always the case (Rokujouma’s .5s are not skippable.) There are a lot of DVD/Blu-Ray sets in Japan that come with extra stories or novellas by the author that are lately published by the original publisher (see Devil Is a Part-Timer or this series) and some are expanded and turn into genuine later volumes (Baccano!). Sometimes the rights (given they were written for the anime production company) may make it harder to bring out over here… and short story collections also might not sell as well to begin with. To sum up, sometimes you’ll see these licensed and sometimes you won’t, but we can be grateful to have this collection, which takes place at various points between Vols. 1-7 and (mostly) has Hachiman behaving himself.

Miura’s on the cover, but does not really feature in the story, except to get really jealous of an underclassman who seems to be in Hayama’s club and is also cute. I suspect we’ll see more of her later. In the meantime, the wraparound stories involve the club answering Dear Abby-style questions, all of which are from “anonymous” people whose identities are nevertheless very obvious. The larger short stories involve the club having to do a magazine special on weddings, which ends up having Komachi run a bride competition among Yukino, Yui, and Shizuka. (By the way, if “I am an unmarried teacher” jokes are not your thing, feel free to skip this entire volume, as they’re omnipresent.) We then get an adaptation of a Drama CD story that continues after Vol. 3, showing the cast partying at an arcade. The longest story involves the cast helping the Judo Club, whose have a now graduated member returning and abusing the team. As often happens, Hachiman immediately sees the solution. As always happens, Hachiman makes sure everyone hates him in solving it.

There’s a lot of Komachi and her Komachi Points in this, and it’s clear that she’s shipping Hachiman with Yui – not that this is really going anywhere. Honestly, Yui and Yukino is the ship which gains the most ground in these short stories, but the author’s not going in that direction either. Instead this seems to be a pretty leisurely look at the character tics we know and love. Hachiman is cynical, Yukino is… well, also cynical, Yui is shiny. The drama CD one may be the weakest, partly as adaptations always tend to suffer a bit like this, and partly as I don’t care about Chiba Prefecture. The Judo story reads most like the novels, and is the best, though also relied a bit too much on “Zaimokuza is gross” for my tastes. Hachiman[‘s solution is excellent, and his implementation is equally awful. It’s the series in a nutshell, really.

The 7th volume ended on a cliffhanger, and it’s annoying that we aren’t getting that resolved. But I’m happy to read about these characters, and as I said, till the very end Hachiman seems to actually be fairly tolerable. A good read.

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, Vol. 7

By Wataru Watari and Ponkan 8. Released in Japan as “Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabukome wa Machigatte Iru” by Shogakukan. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jennifer Ward.

After the bleakness of the last volume, it’s good to see that this one is at least slightly more light-hearted, though as always the author can’t seem to resist ending on a downhearted note. That said, things are a lot warmer here, and the extra side-story that adapts a drama CD even tries to retcon the last book by showing that Hachiman was eventually roped into an after party anyway. This brings together most of the main protagonists, and features what may be the funniest part of the book, where Hachiman’s “hobbies” are found to be wanting (people watching doesn’t count) and they try to find him some new ones. It does reinforce a running theme of this series, though, which is that as much as Hachiman wants to push everyone as far away from him as possible, there is a growing core of people who worry and care about him. The trouble is, some are also falling for him, and at this point, that’s not a good thing.

It’s time for the traditional trip to Kyoto, with temple visits galore, something that has most people excited, even Yukino, who seems to be far more into the trip than she pretends. That said, the Service Club also has a new request, and it puts the “romantic comedy” back in the spotlight. Tobe, best known so far as “Hayama’s #2”, is in love with Ebina, best known so far as “that BL fangirl”, and wants to ask her out, but is nervous, so wants to enlist the help of Hachiman’s group. Needless to say, given this group, this involves 2/3 crushing verbal abuse and 1/3 sympathy, and even Yui is finding it hard to bring the sympathy. The trouble is, as it becomes apparent, Ebina does not want that sort of relationship – not now, and not with Tobe. And that makes everyone nervous, because the way Hayama and Miura’s cliques are set up, if a confession results in awkwardness and pulling away, it will destroy both groups.

If you guessed the solution to this was “Hachiman taking things on himself so as to deflect everything to him”, then congratulations, you are familiar with how this series works. That said, much as it was interesting to see a more serious and even poignant side to Ebina, the “main” romance is mostly there to highlight the main love triangle of Hachiman, Yukino and Yui. There’s plenty of ship tease between him and both girls here, as he holds Yui’s hand as they go through a dark and creepy temple set, and sneaks out for ramen with Yukino and Shizuka (a chapter that features Yukino at easily her cutest and most vulnerable in the series to date). But, just as everyone knows with Ebina and Tobe, the reader is aware that if the love story advances further, the core friendship of these three is going to be broken. Especially if Hachiman keeps up his “please crucify me” solutions to everyone’s problems.

So the question is, what’s next? Can the Service Club maintain its status quo? Well, my guess is yes, as the next volume is “7.5”, and is a collection of short stories. (Note that unlike, say, Devil Is a Part-Timer, these .5 volumes were not released as DVD extras, and are therefore able to be licensed here.) That said, this seventh volume of OreGairu is a bit less bleak, but you’re starting to see that the train is rushing forward towards a final destination that may simply be “crash”.